This article from McMansionhell outlines those proportions and massings we see on some new large single family housing that somehow doesn’t look right even when being built. The author’s four design principles are to be applied to classical or traditional architecture, which, the author notes, most new housing is modeled after.

The author states:

“Sometimes people ask, why is xyz house bad? Asking this question does not imply that the asker has bad taste or no taste whatsoever – it means that they are simply not educated in basic architectural concepts. In this post, I will introduce basic architectural concepts and explain why not all suburban/exurban/residential houses are McMansions, as well as what makes a McMansion especially hideous.”

Posing the question “what makes McMansion bad architecture” a review of four design principles provides a primer for analysis. Included are Masses and Voids, (by the way, McMansions have too many voids, but you already knew that) Balance, Proportion and Rhythm.


The article offers a good introduction to identifying the difference between a house with proportions-and those sadly lacking. You will also learn how to know when a house is a mansion as opposed to a  McMansion, and the importance of symmetry. It’s a thoughtful read, well illustrated for a good primer and discussion on architectural form.